New Forth Valley Midwifery Unit Offers More Homely Surroundings

Mums-to-be can now give birth in the more homely surroundings of the Alongside Midwifery Unit (AMU) at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

The new midwife-led facility sits within the existing Women and Children’s Unit and rooms have been refurbished to create a less clinical atmosphere. New beds have been purchased to support delivery along with new cube chairs, which convert to a double bed for women to sleep on together with their partner.

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman attended the opening of the unit and met members of the team and new parents Megan Hawick and Gary Fraser whose daughter Amelie was one of the first babies to be born in the Unit.

She also met pupils from Larbert High School who have created a new mural for the AMU corridor which was inspired by nature and the hospital’s woodland surroundings.

Ms Freeman said:

“We want to keep improving maternity and neonatal care in Scotland to ensure all mothers and babies are offered high quality service with a family-centred, safe and compassionate approach.

“Our national maternity strategy recommends all NHS Boards offer the full range of choice of place of birth and the Alongside Midwifery Unit is a great example of this taking shape.”

The AMU also has two rooms for water births and one other labour room. In addition, specially commissioned artwork and new light projection equipment have been installed to provide visual diversions and help create a more calming environment.

NHS Forth Valley’s Head of Midwifery, Gillian Morton, said: “NHS Forth Valley is one of five NHS Boards in Scotland selected to take forward the early implementation of recommendations in The Best Start, Scotland’s national strategy for maternity and neonatal care.

“As well as the development of an AMU, we will be introducing new working patterns for staff to ensure more women are cared for by a midwife they know during pregnancy, labour and after their baby has been born. In addition, we are planning to develop new care  arrangements for a specific group of babies who require increased nursing and monitoring to enable them to remain with their mother in the post-natal ward rather than having to be transferred to the Neonatal Unit.”

Last year just over 3,100 babies were born at Forth Valley Royal Hospital where the Women and Children’s Unit holds a Unicef Baby Friendly Award.  The Baby Friendly Initiative is a worldwide programme administered by Unicef and the World Health Organisation, which was introduced to address a global decline in breastfeeding. Forth Valley Royal Hospital was first awarded full accreditation in 2012 and has retained it since.